When the new Chevrolet Impala goes on sale in the first quarter next year as a 2014 model-year vehicle, it will bookend a complete renovation of the Chevrolet brand that began two years ago. It will also aguably give General Motors’ bowtie brand the largest vehicle portfolio in the business.
The automaker unveiled the new Impala at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday with a stage full of classic Impalas from years past. Mark Reuss, president of GM North America and an engineer, was emotional about the vehicle, which will be in its 10th generation when the new one appears in dealerships.
“It’s a nameplate that goes back 50 years to 1958,” he said. “It’s Chevrolet’s flagship, and it’s a design that we didn’t need to borrow from anyone else.”
Chris Perry, head of Chevrolet global marketing, said the Impala will be loaded with new safety and navigation technology and will be offered with three powertrain options including a 303 hp. V6, which harkens back to the famed ‘60s-era Impala with over 400 horses. There will also be a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder version getting 35 mpg.
Perry tells Marketing Daily that the full-sized car market in which Impala competes has lost weight in recent years, going from 1.5 million vehicles in 2007 to 600,000 last year. Of course, back in the ’60s Chevrolet sold a million Impalas in its best year. “There’s a lot going on in the segment; one is that fleet sales have dropped because of the recession and fuel prices went up. Because of that, many manufacturers focused on small cars,” he says. But he predicts a resurgence, “Because manufacturers are putting their attention there and such fuel-efficiency technology such as eAssist [GM’s proprietary light electrification tech] makes it viable in terms of mileage.”
He adds that Impala’s role will be as Chevrolet’s flagship car, sort of the keystone for the car lineup (to be differentiated from a halo car like Corvette, intended to evince what the brand can do in performance and tuning), and as such will get a substantial marketing push. “We need to announce the fact that we have a new car, and the role as flagship vehicle will help with the rest of the lineup. We have seen that with Volt, Camaro and Corvette.”
Joel Ewanick, GM’s global marketing chief, who was also at the Chevy Impala reveal, spoke to Marketing Daily about Chevrolet’s new Commonwealth global agency structure, which puts holding companies Omnicom Group and Interpublic in one room, and makes collaborators of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and McCann Worldgroup. Ewanick explained that the 7% to 8% saving he expects to see from the arrangement over five years will be garnered from cutting redundancy, since until now each country had its own agency that did its own creative, and very little of it was applied to other markets.
He says that regardless of how good or transcendent one agency’s creative might have been in country “A,” there was no oversight structure in place to apply that creative to country “B.” “What this really speaks to is how inefficient we were before,” he says. “What this lets us do is create a toolbox that can be applied to regions rather than each country doing its own thing.”
Agency hubs in places like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Detroit, Milan, and Mumbai will provide regional oversight. “The production work can be done in certain parts of the world in a much more efficient way. Our savings on digital will be astronomical.”
He says the change doesn’t alter things that much, since 60% to 75% of sales were managed by either McCann or Goodby. “So the business interruption in terms of people will be fairly minimal.”